Although pu erh tea has a history of more than one thousand years, it is by no means too old to adapt. When you drink Pu erh, we can in fact add different ingredients to spice it up. Here is a list of 8 great pairings for you […]
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Drinking tea is a part of the daily life in China. It is the etiquette for the host to serve tea for the visitors. Whether you are receiving guests or just relaxing at home, it is important to use the right tea wares. Not only is it polite, but also making the tea-drinking session more enjoyable.
Here are 9 basic Chinese tea wares that are frequently used:
Tea Scoop (chá zé, 茶则)
Tea scoop is called “chá zé” in chinese, zé means “to mesure”. The function of the tea scoop is to take certain amount of dry tea leaves out of the tea caddy.
It is commonly made of bamboo: split a bamboo pole in half, and then polish the front end into a shape that easily scoops the tea. There are also wood and metal tea scoops with different styles.
Teaspoon(chá chí, 茶匙)
The teaspoon used in tea ceremony is shaped like a stick more than a spoon, with its one end slightly curved. It is mainly used to move dry tea leaves from the tea holder or tea scoop into the teapot, and to dig out brewed tea leaves from the teapot.
After the tea is brewed, the leaves are soaked and expanded and often filled tightly in the teapot. It is neither convenient nor hygienic to dig out the tea leaves with fingers. Therefore, using a teaspoon to help. It is recommended to choose a teaspoon with a shorter length than the tea tray.
Tea Tongs (chá jiá, 茶夹)
Tea tongs, also known as tea chopsticks, are small tools used for warming tea cups. Using the tea tong, the tea artist picks up the tea cups to discard the first serving of tea.
They can also be used to pick out the brewed tea leaves from the teapot.
Traditionally, the cups are placed in hot water for sterilization and warming up before serving tea. After this step, tea tongs come in handy for gripping the hot cups and placing them on the tea tray, which keeps the cups sanitary and the hands from burning.
Tea Tray (chá pán, 茶盘)
Tea tray is used to accommodate tea set and tea accessories and to keep the table from getting messy and wet.
There are single-layer tea trays as well as tea draining trays. A tea draining tray is also called Gongfu tea tray. It consists of a grate on top and a pan underneath to collect waste liquids, sometimes it comes with a hose connected to the pan to drain the waste liquids to a bucket. It’s perfect for Gongfu tea method which has repeatedly rinsing process.
The key of choosing a good tea tray is to make sure that it is flat and stable. As for materials, bamboo and wood tea trays are never out of style because of their simple and natural elegance. Due to the nature of these materials, it is important to keep the tea tray dry after using.
Teapot (chá hú, 茶壶)
Do you know that there are nearly 200 basic styles of the teapot family? It’s because of all the combinations of the different handles, lids, spouts, bodies and bases. When you choose a teapot, it is necessary to check whether the lid fits the body of the teapot precisely. Otherwise the heat can easily run out when the tea is brewing, affecting the overall flavour of the tea.
Among all the shapes of the teapots body, a round body teapot is highly recommended. The round body helps the tea leaves to spread out and show the perfect taste of the tea.
Common materials of teapots include porcelain, purple clay (zisha), glass, or even stone. Purple clay teapots are one of the most popular kinds. With great air permeability and low thermal conductivity, purple clay teapots are ideal for brewing tea.
Gaiwan (gài wǎn,盖碗)
A gaiwan is made up with a lid, a bowl, and a saucer. It is used to steep tea and then pour the infusion into a tea cup or a fairness cup to share.
You can drink tea directly from the bowl when you are by yourself, or when you don’t have a cup at hand, simply push the tea leaves aside using the lid while sipping the tea.
Gaiwans are usually made of ceramic, zisha and glass, and they are small in size. The volume of a gaiwan is generally 100-150 ml.
Fairness Cup (gōng dào bēi, 公道杯）
If you pour the tea into the tea cups directly from the teapot, there may be a case where one cup of tea is weaker and another is stronger. A serving cup, which is called “fairness cup”will solve this problem.
Pour the brewed tea in a fairness cup from the teapot or the gaiwan first. That way the flavour and the colour of the tea are evened out, then pour the tea from the fairness cup into tea cups, everyone can taste the same tea, how fair!
The volume of a fairness cup should be at least able to hold a pot of tea. The opening should be big, so it is more convenient to pour tea into it.
Teacup (chá bēi, 茶杯)
A tea tasting cup, also called “tea tasting cup” (pǐn míng bēi, 品茗杯), usually has no handle and it is small in size. How small is it? The volume is just right for one gulp of tea or a few sips. There is a rule about the amount of tea that is poured into the cup for the guests: it should be no more than 80% full. Because it’s hard to lift the cup full of hot tea without burning the hands or spilling the tea.
Different shapes and styles of teacups make tea-drinking a more pleasant experience. There are quite a few fascinating shapes of the teacups, such as the wide opening one that shapes like a bamboo hat, and the “press-hand cup” which has the rim curved outward that is easy for the hand to hold.
Tea tasting cups are mainly made from ceramic, purple clay and glass. If you want to observe the colour of the infusion, a white ceramic tea cup is the best choice.
Tea caddy (chá guàn, 茶罐)
A tea caddy is a jar, a canister or a box used to store tea. Tea caddies are usually made from ceramic, bamboo, wood, glass and metal. No matter which material it is made from, a good tea caddy should be air tight and odorless in order to keep the tea leaves dry and preserve their original flavour.
Horses have a very high status in traditional Chinese culture. The traditional Chinese character of the word horse (馬, mǎ) looks exactly like a standing horse. In ancient China, there were six main kinds of domestic animals: horse, cattle, sheep, chicken, dog and pig. The […]
Gushu literally means “Ancient Tree” in Chinese. Nowadays, a tea tree over 100 years old is often considered gushu. In the stricter sense, gushu must be more than 300 years old and is growing in the unfrequented mountain forest. Now the question is, apart from the age, what is special about gushu? First let’s see what other kinds of tea trees there are for pu erh.
It refers to the pu erh made of raw materials picked from the modern cultivated tea gardens. In terms of volume of production, garden tea definitely wins. These trees are shorter with high planting density, while the tea leaves are smaller and thinner.
Wild arbor (qiao mu)
It refers to pu erh tea made of fresh leaves coming from Yunnan large leaf tea trees. Gushu is actually wild trees with older age. Because of its height, tea farmers need to climb up the trees to pick the leaves. The appearance of wild arbor tea leave is thick and stout. In general, wild arbor tea tastes more mellow with a more pronounced aftertaste.
Gushu are mainly distributed in the traditional tea regions in xishuangbanna, Pu’er city and Lincang city in Yunnan province. Most of the gushu only harvest once a year, which makes tea products from gushu more and more valuable in the pu erh market.
Tea products from gushu can be regarded as one of the world’s greenest drinks. The reason why ancient tea trees can survive this long is because that they lay the roots in in the most fertile areas without pollution from chemical fertilisers and pesticides. With large tree trunks and deep roots, gushu can efficiently absorb nutrients from the soil that results in large and thick leaves.
The taste of gushu tea is gentle yet full of depth. Its chaqi doesn’t faint even after multiple steepings.
The aftertaste of gushu shows in two parts: the first part is the actual taste which is sweet and lingering, the second part is that the whole body will feel relaxed with freshness.
How to Avoid Fake Gushu?
Because the price difference between real gushu and common garden tea is very large, some tea producers will take advantage of this. Some will label the leaves from young tea trees or garden tea as gushu and sell for a higher markup.
There’s no real way to avoid this. Though, you should avoid teas with prices that look too good to be true. A gushu teas over 10 years old shouldn’t be cheaper than 400 USD, and probably much more if you’re buying it from resellers. If you do want to invest in gushu, our advice is to find younger gushu. Fresh gushu should be purchased for 40-100 USD a cake, depending on who you buy from. And they’ll slowly increase in price over the years.
The key is to forget about gushu as a quality classification, and to focus purely on the taste. That’s what matters!
I’ve lucky to have received samples of Issaku tea from Kei at JapaneseGlobalTeaIn.com. This is an award-winning Japanese tea that has won last years Global Tea Championship (Steamed tea category)! The leaves appeared dark green, as expected from a Japanese green, and are finely broken. […]
I’m not sure if everyone noticed it, but cheese tea has been a hit among the young generation over the past few years. Here in China, if there’s a long queue on the street or in a mall, it’s most likely in front of a cheese tea shop. And what are people getting? Hashtag #SayCheeseTea! Apparently it’s also trending overseas like the US and the UK, and all over social media too.
It sounds strange, isn’t it? Cheese with wine, yes. But cheese with tea? And basically there’s no cheese in the mainstream Chinese diet, how did the idea of mixing cheese with the traditional drink of tea come up?
The History of Cheese Tea
It all started with the milk tea. Cheese tea, same as its relative milk tea, originated from Taiwan. Milk tea shops began to appear on the streets since the 90’s, spreading from Taiwan to mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. With the rapid development of milk tea industry, the competition got intense and the products were not so different from one milk tea brand to another. In order to make a difference and meet the picky consumers’ needs, cheese tea was invented in Taiwan in 2010. Started as a street stall invention, cheese tea has evolved and improved and quickly gained it’s popularity. Since 2013, cheese tea has become a trendy drink among young people who like to try new things.
A cup of cheese tea has two layers: a tea base with a frothy milky cheesy topping. The topping is the key of cheese tea. It is made of cream cheese, milk and whipping cream. Because it floats on top of the tea base, it is called “milk cap” (奶盖, nai gai) in Chinese.
So what does cheese tea taste like? Some people say it has an acquired taste, but not to me! I fell in love with it instantly after my first sip. It was an oolong sea salt cheese tea. I drank it the way I was told: tilt the cup at a 45 degree angle, drink both the cheese topping and the tea base at the same time and allow both elements to mix in the mouth. At first it tasted liked the fluffy form of a slightly salted cheese cake, not bad! It got better once the oolong joined. The aroma and astringency from the tea balanced well with the somewhat heavy taste of the topping, leaving a wonderful aftertaste. what a great pairing!
Unlike the traditional milk tea, customer can actually taste and judge the tea base of cheese tea. That’s why most brands have selected quality tea to replace the ordinary tea or even powdered tea used in the milk tea.
Variation in Cheese Tea Toppings
To attract the customers, there must be fresh and new products coming out every so often. Various ingredients are added on top or mixed in the toppings to alter the taste and texture, such as crushed Oreo, pine nuts, walnuts, chocolate syrup, matcha, ice cream and caramel. Apart from the four basic categories of pure tea base – oolong, pu erh, green tea and black tea, fresh fruits also get to put in – mango, kumquat, strawberry, pineapple, you name it. So yes, there is definitely a long list of choices.
Not just the taste, some cheese tea shops provide a comfortable environment like coffee shops, some are exquisite boutique shops. That’s the reason why cheese tea probably here to stay and make young people drink more tea than ever.
All in all, cheese tea is highly recommended! If you can’t find it in your local area, don’t worry! We have a recipe here you can try at home:
Sea Salt Cheese Tea Recipe
Here’s what you need for a cheese foam tea recipe:
- Cold water: 400ml
- Black tea: 15g
- Cream Cheese: 30g
- Caster Sugar: 20g
- Whipping Cream: 120g
- Milk: 30ml
- Sea salt
- Place the black tea in a pot and pour cold water in, put the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil.
- Filter out the tea leaves. Pour the tea in to a cup/glass to cool.
- Bring cream cheese to room temperature, add in caster sugar and sea salt to taste, stir till smooth. Add in whipping cream and milk, whip the mixture till it forms still peaks. Now the cheese topping is done!
- Gently add the topping mixture over the cup/glass of tea.
Now, enjoy this salted cheese drink recipe. Enjoy your cheese tea time!
Yunnan Taetea (Dayi) Group is one of the most well-known pu erh tea manufacturers in the world. The group owns several companies including the famous Menghai Tea Factory. Located in Xishuangbanna in the Southwest Yunnan the factory has been providing quality tea for over 70 […]